ESI Media’s Jon O’Donnell tells us about London Fashion Week and how to be a successful event partner


The Evening Standard and London Fashion Week have long been entwined – here Jon O’Donnell, ‎Group Commercial Director, ESI Media, tells us how the partnership has evolved and describes the lessons learned from last month’s event.

ESI Media Evening Standard London Fashion Week

“We’ve been supporting London Fashion Week since it launched back in the 1980s. When I first joined the Standard, we were official media partners and all we had was a logo on a board,” says O’Donnell.

The strategy has moved on in leaps and bounds since then as the media group taps into one of the most influential events around.

“Every year we’re trying to do more and more,” says O’Donnell. “It’s the youngest of the big four fashion weeks but it generates £100m worth of orders each season, and is worth £26bn for the UK economy. It’s a really important part of our economy and generates far more orders than a lot of the other Fashion Weeks.  

“The key thing for us is making sure we’re associated with all the key events that are taking place. 

“It’s really important that we’re at the centre of it. There’s a consumer angle and a trade angle. LFW is in essence a trade event but it also creates a tremendous amount of buzz and interest for the consumer. 

“One of the key things we get from it is access to back stage - the shows and designers that we can interview and write about and create content around. It’s important that we’re seen to be first with the news, first with the information from cultural events. We can reach out to people in the industry so they can engage with the Evening Standard Magazine, we can make sure it’s front of mind for people as a fashion-first product. We have access to the shows and we can look after our partners and give them access too.

“The event is constantly evolving. Last year was the first season at Brewer Street – it’s an amazing space which meant we could expand out much more into the collections and the smaller designers could really exhibit their wares in a much more open environment. 

“For us in terms of our evolution it’s about how we can immerse the Evening Standard brand as a whole into the event. We’ve been Instagramming more, creating much more video content; it’s about making sure we have a much more immersive experience for people. We’ve changed the people who are distributing our magazines so they look the part – creating a more interesting experience for people that fits with the brand, so that people see the Evening Standard as being synonymous with fashion.”

Lessons ESI Media learnt from London Fashion Week AW 2016:

  • Events like London Fashion Week allow us to seize all a wider range of opportunities to get the Evening Standard brand into people’s hands – as a partner you need to be right at the heart of the event   
  • Access to the event is key – for the Evening Standard that means being able to bring the event to life for our readers, but also for our commercial partners. That access to once in a lifetime experiences is unique and is a real USP!
  • Video is a huge growth point for the Evening Standard at the moment, but is even more important at an event. Whether it is backstage snippets, interviews with key designers and models or round ups of the latest trends, video works extremely well for fashion content and is very inclusive for readers. The opportunities for commercial partners to become more involved in this is exciting too
  • The new distributors made a real difference – they were very engaging and they certainly looked the part from top to bottom. We’ve really focused on our distribution at the event and now recruit a team of handpicked distributors to hand out the Evening Standard Magazine. Great attention has been paid to how they engage with people to deliver a much higher quality experience, that chimes beautifully with the ES fashion brand.
ESI Media Evening Standard London Fashion Week
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